Everyday Things History Podcasts SOI Blog

The 13 Month Calendar

I love the podcast 99% Invisible, I could probably post almost all of their episodes here on my blog of interesting things I learned. This one, though, really appealed to me. I really liked this idea of reforming the calendar to a 13 month schedule. Every month would have 28 days and each day of the month would correspond to the same number in each month, e.g. the second is always a Monday, the twenty first is always a Saturday. All holidays would be moved to Monday. (Although, I’m very fond of Thanksgiving, since it falls on a Thursday, most offices will take the rest of the week off.) Traditionalists would be appalled, especially the problem with what to do with July 4th holiday. Wikipedia has a page on it listing pros and cons of the calendar, where, I believe, most to the cons are weak (or should that be week). Alas, it’s only a thought experiment, I really don’t think it would ever catch on.


Everyday Things History SOI Blog

GTD with the Eisenhower Box

I’m always keen to learn better ways to “get things done” (GTD) and have come across a few ideas that seem appealing to me. And, at the moment I couldn’t tell you any of them since I rarely take to practicing them. This one, though, caters to my belief in the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) principle, not to mention it has a great back story.
article by James Clear

History Technology

The Origin of the Luddites

Planet Money has an interesting history lesson on the Luddites. It appears we are doomed to repeat this history and if CGP Grey is correct, we have a lot to worry about. His Humans Need Not Apply video is below also.



History Humanities

US Amount Spent on Alcohol has not changed in 30 years.

NPR’s money blog ran an interesting graphic about how Americans spend their booze money compared with 30 years ago. The average spent has not changed, about one dollar of every 100. But what’s changed is where it’s bought and what type.

NPR Money Blog

Books History Technology

The Great Horse-Manure Crisis of 1894

Seems America had an “emissions” crisis near the turn of the 20th century. Although no one had an answer to the problem it seemed to take care of it self thanks to a new mode of transportation. I first read about this in Levitt and Dubners “Super Freakonomics,” and googling gave me a few articles that seem to predate the book.


History Technology

Enter Stagnation, not much has changed in our lifetimes.

Tyler Cowen tells us that we should adjust our expectations for economic growth in the US.

Books History Technology

Goodyear Tire has no affiliation with Charles Goodyear.

Goodyear tire company borrowed the Goodyear name.

One thing needs to be said up front: Charles Goodyear, the American in this story, didn’t start the tire company. The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company was started by people he never knew, in a city he never visited, thirty-eight years after his death. Given the understandable (and not entirely accidental) confusion on this point, it bears mentioning that among the hundreds of potential uses for rubber envisioned by Charles Goodyear, the automobile tire was one he never foresaw, for the simple reason that the automobile had yet to be invented.

This is a very interesting book, and a highly cautionary tale. It tells the, often sad, story of Charles Goodyear and his fight to profit from his discovery. I highly recommend it.
Note: Ordering this book using this link generates a few pennies to help maintain the cost of this site. No extra fees are added to your purchase.

Art Entertainment History Media

Roadside Giants

I stumbled on this in the Waymarking site. There’s a category of Giant Fiberglass Statues a.k.a. Muffler Men. I noticed a lot of them looked alike and must have been produced by one company for sale. After a quick Google search I found my answer and an interesting story.

Steve: These characters — and many others — were made by a company called International Fiberglass, which I owned and ran during the mid 1960s until around 1974. They were sold as attention getters for retail stores.

Our main business was working with the large oil and tire companies and restaurant chains for nationwide programs. For example, we built a series of Phillips Petroleum cowboys, Texaco Big Friends, and US Rubber Miss Uniroyals. We also did ENCO and Humble tigers, and Sinclair Dinosaurs.

We had a variety of figures which we adapted from one mold — such as golfers, cowboys, spacemen, Indians, muffler men, etc. We also built a bunch of different animals such as horses, steers, cows, giant chickens, etc.

link iconOrigin of the Species on Roadside America

link iconWaymarking Category

Art History

Solid Rock Churches

On a high volcanic rock plateau in Ethiopia stands a unique Christian holy site, Lalibela. In the 12th century, a crossed-shaped church called the House of St. George was built by cutting away the surrounding rock to leave a 12 meter by 12 meter cross. It is formed out of a single rock without a single seam. The interior was also hollowed out from rock. Lalibela has eleven stone churches, which are connected by tunnels. They were built by a ruler named King Lalibela in the 12th century.
from World Heritage Site UNESCO

link iconVideo explaining the history

Awesome aerial pictures of Africa (which lead to this discovery)
link icon
Lalibela Church by Michael Poliza

Travel Video on Youtube showing various angles and countryside.

Books Government History

Sitting US President Under Enemy Fire

In a little known battle just outside Washington DC during the American Civil War, President Lincoln came out to see the battle and became the only sitting US President to come under enemy fire during a war. In fact a surgeon standing next to him was wounded by a confederate sharp shooter.

The story is chronicled in Marc Leepson’s book Desperate Engagment.

link iconMarc Leepson’s Web site

link iconMarc Leepson appears on CSPANs BookTV and tours the battlefields describing events. (WARNING may only be enjoyable by die hard History and Civil War Fans)